Pretty Place Chapel (A peaceful place for December)

Export to PDF | Export to DOC

pretty place sign

This plaque is located at the entrance to the “Fred W. Symmes Chapel.” 

“May a Sense of The Presence of God
of Everyone Who Visits this Sacred Spot.”

“Filling the Soul with a sense of God’s presence” is no small order.

Yet somehow it happens at the Chapel located at the YMCA’s Camp Greenville. A spot that is more commonly known as “Pretty Place.”

If you haven’t been to this hidden treasure, located only an hour north of downtown Greenville, South Carolina — it is definitely worth the winding, mountain drive to reach this memorable site.


“Pretty Place Chapel” • ©2015 Marie Scott • 30″ x 40″ oil painting

Capturing the feeling of peace and serenity found inside the Chapel at Pretty Place, was definitely my biggest artistic challenge to date. This is by far the most detailed structure I have ever attempted to paint. 

My main objective in this work was to create a composition that would help to transport you, for a brief moment in time, to the place of rest found at “This Sacred Spot.” 

To achieve this lofty goal, it was imperative that the internal structure was clean, symmetrical, and believable. Anything less would be a distraction.

Fortunately, I’m married to a structural engineer who helped me make sense of how all the “lines” (of wood) connected to each other. If there were any technical flaws within my composition, your eyes would never be released to look past what was happening inside the building.

Through use of color and placement of angles, I designed this piece to first lead your eyes to the cross, which is the focal point of the Chapel.

Then secondly, my hope was that the endless expanse of sky and mountains beyond the cross would allow your mind and spirit to find rest amidst all the contrasting busyness of the building’s man-made elements.

It is the view BEYOND the chapel which gives way to a feeling that “there is something out there that is much bigger than myself.” The feeling of a Sacred Spot.

Looking back on the process of completing this painting, I have perspective on my struggles as I tried to create a soul-filling visual story of Pretty Place Chapel.

Just as in life…  

Most of my time, effort, and angst were spent focused on what is shown right in front of your eyes. The countless, unending intersecting lines made my eyes cross and my head hurt. 

I was so determined to “get this right” that it wasn’t an even remotely fun project. It was terribly taxing. Over and over again I asked myself “Will this ever turn out? Will it ever be worth all the energy I am pouring into this?”

But when the very last piece of the front story was finally completed, it was only then that I could literally look past (what was once) the turmoil of the demanding foreground, and see into the quiet distance.

The contrast brings relief. 

A foreground full of complex details is what causes the distance to feel so inviting.

I should have read the beam.

Did you notice what is inscribed on the main beam at the front of the Pretty Place Chapel? It says

Ironically, (just as in life…) this was one of the very LAST things I painted. 

Maybe one day I will learn to trust first, and do second.

Psalm 121:1-2
Assurance of God’s Protection

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

A bigger picture…  

It is hard here on earth. Friends are sick. Families are dissolving. Evil seems to be winning. But this is just the front story. A foreground that feels too complicated to deal with most days.

The cares and worries of today’s life can so easily consume our focus, causing us to forget that there is a bigger picture. One we can’t see today. But one that ends with a perfect resolution.  A picture that brings relief. 

The story does not end here.
The verses below remind me that the yuck, muck, and gunk of this world are NOT all that there is. 

A better place is on the way.
God says so.

Revelation 21:1-4 
A New Heaven and a New Earth

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Remember the beam.

If like me, you need a visual reminder that the best is yet to come — just click on my December calendar and download it for use as your computer desktop. May it help your mind focus on the One who offers True Hope for all of the struggles that may cross your path throughout this busy month.

DECEMBER 2015 Desktop Calendar

If you are interested in seeing the photos I took each day while working away on this project, click here to watch a short video of my painting of Pretty Place Chapel. It shows the painting coming to life from start to finish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are just a few snapshots I took to gain inspiration while visiting the Chapel at Pretty Place.

Wishing you a December in which you focus on what REALLY matters,
Marie Scott


To see the entire collection of my colorful, peace-filled paintings of landscapes, flowers, and other beautiful things, visit my online gallery at

Leave a Reply